The once-dominant cultural concept of snacking as a special occasion between meals is long gone. In 2012, 52% of all eating occasions among American consumers were snacking occasions -- up from 49% in 2010, according to The Hartman Group’s Eating Occasions Database.
Using that database and a recent survey of members of its HartmanSalt.com consumer panel, the company took a snapshot of Americans’ current snacking behaviors and attitudes.
*On average, Americans consume 2.35 snacks per day. Specifically, 41% eat two snacks per day, 24% eat three, 17% eat one, 13% eat four and 4% eat five or more.
*Snacking occurs most often later in the day. More than half of consumers report snacking between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. (56%) and/or between 5 p.m. and midnight (51%). In addition, 34% report snacking between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m.; 31% between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.; and 17% between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m.
*More than 3 in 10 consumers say that they most often eat snacks at home, while just 12% report snacking at work, and 7% report snacking “on the go.”
*Increasingly, consumers believe that eating smaller meals more frequently is healthier, and that snacking bridges gaps between meals due to long work and commute times.
*While 28% say that they snack when they “want an indulgent treat,” many say that there’s no particular driver behind snacking (27% describe snacking as “an impulse”). In addition, 16% say they snack when they don’t feel like cooking or preparing a meal, and 14% snack when they “feel stressed or anxious.”
*A disconnect between attitudes about healthy snacking and actual behaviors continues. More than half (57%) of survey respondents said that it’s very important or important that the foods and beverages that they snack on are healthy. However, the two most popular (most-often mentioned) snacks are chips and soda.